Math Every Day: Winner's Showcase

Posted by Lisa Wise

Mar 10, 2015 10:30:00 AM

We just can’t get enough math!  Today we continue to share with you more of the winning entries from our “Math Every Day” contest, where we challenges students from across the country to tell us their “math story.”  Some of our favorite winning entries came from some star students in Ms. Wilson’s 8th grade class at Westbrook Intermediate School in Texas.  From pizza to costume design to counting steps, these students give us their unique take on how they use math in their daily lives.



By Amanda

The main way that I incorporate math into my everyday life is with the basic structure of it, that I was taught at a young age: counting. Counting is not something that I really have to think about. It is like walking or using a pogo stick. Once you learn how to do it, it is hard to forget, especially when you use the skill daily. I count everything whether it be books on a shelf, the food I am eating, or even my steps. Most people overlook this mathematical skill, when really it is the simplest and most important part of math. The picture I have included depicts me running during a cross country meet. From start to finish, I have been counting my steps and it is not just a one-time thing, I am often doing this. Many people would think I am crazy, but counting is really important to me because it is an easy way for me to focus my brain on one thing. Also, counting is important to math because without it math wouldn't really exist.


"Sketching Costumes"

By Kimmy

The way math is involved in my life is when I am sketching costumes. The sketches have to be in proper proportion or else they would look strange. Using proportions to roughly sketch out the costumes helps set up what the actual costume would look like. By setting up a proportion, I can use the sketch drawn to obtain the measurements needed to actually make the costume. The proper measurement for the costume can also be found by using basic mathematical processes, such as multiplying or dividing, to find out the length of the article of clothing. Math is also integrated into sketching by dividing up body sections and taking measurements for those specific parts. When sketching, a part must be a certain measurement within a certain ratio. If the ratio is incorrect then there is a chance that the costume will not be the right ratio to the person’s body.



By Reefa

Imagine hanging out with your friends and suddenly you all get hungry. You decide to make some pizza, so you go find a recipe online telling you need about 2 cups of flour to make a medium sized pizza. Since you guys wanted a large, you decided to use the ratio 2:3 for medium to large. But you put in a little less yeast than you were supposed to, assuming it was enough for the three of you. Well, you assumed wrong. The ratio was messed up and now the pizza was too small. You cut the pizza into 9 slices, each slice having an angle of about 40 degrees. Soon, you guys sit down to eat along with a nice movie, but everyone was so interested in the movie, no one was counting how many slices they ate. There is one slice left now and all three of you are eying it. Who is going to eat it? Well obviously you should eat since you paid, but mathematically you shouldn’t. If you cut a pizza into 9 pieces, you can divide it by 3 since there are three of you so each person would end up eating 3 slices. But, you ate four slices without noticing and now all of you are stuck. Rock paper scissors can work, but you have a 50 percent chance of beating the person you’re against. If you win, you rock, paper, scissors, with person number two. Now you have another 50 percent chance of winning that last slice. But one of your friends thinks you cheated so you get too fed up. You’re slowly losing your temper. You can’t take it anymore. You pick up your phone and dial Pizza Hut®. “Hello, I would like to order a small cheese pizza, along with a pack of nine chicken wings…”

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Topics: motivation, contest, math everyday

Math Every Day: Winner's Showcase

Posted by Lisa Wise

Mar 6, 2015 12:30:00 PM

Our Math Every Day contest inspired nearly 1,000 students who use Think Through Math in their classrooms, and those students in turn, inspired us.  We are delighted to present another installment of our “Math Every Day Winner’s Showcase,” which highlights one student’s take on the use of his favorite childhood activity – Legos.

Math Every Day: Legos
By Alex, 8th Grade
Westbrook Intermediate School, Texas Education Agency

Lego’s, we have all come to know them as little blocks that can create large astounding creations, reminding us that there are no limits creativity. However, not only do Legos serve the purpose of making children laugh and imagine, they also serve the secret purpose of teaching us math every day. Although this claim may seem far-fetched, the more you think about it, the more you begin to realize that Legos really are hidden math lessons taught by none-other than yourself.

First off, there is the easy comparison how each piece is a part of the entire creation, so therefore each Lego piece represents a fraction of the entire creation. Then there is the other fraction relation, if one needed a two by four, than one could create this by combining two, two by twos. Each piece actually represents a fraction itself, for example if the two by four was the whole, than a two by two would be a half, a two by one, a fourth. These claims help support the fact that Legos can help represent fractions.

In addition, Legos can help represent multiplication. If you look at a two by two piece, you can see that there are four circles sticking up. If you see a two by six, you will see twelve circles sticking up. Overall looking at a Lego can teach you about multiplication by understanding the amount of circles on the piece.

Overall, Legos can teach us about about fractions, multiplication, and so much more. So next time you open up a box of Legos, think about the all the math you are about to do, because if you thought that math wasn’t very fun, think again. 

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Topics: motivation, contest, math everyday

Math Every Day Winners Showcase

Posted by Lisa Wise

Mar 4, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Today is the third installment in our “Math Every Day Winners Showcase.”  Today’s winning entry from Ms. Holcomb’s 3rd grade class at Timber Creek Elementary in Lewisville, not only illustrates how these dynamic students use math in their lives, but does so with a lively musical rendition of Rock Around the Clock! These students truly Rock!

Math Around The Clock

One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock math,
Five, six, seven o’clock eight o’clock math,
Nine, ten, eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock math
We use math around the clock all day.

Put your thinking caps on for some Science fun,
We’ll measure in metric when the clock strikes 1:00.

We use math to measure in Science each day.
We use math, math, math, as we learn and play.
We use math! We use math all night and day.

When the clock strikes two, three and four,
It’s time to go home, we’re out the door.

We use math to keep our schedule all day.
We use math, math, math, as we learn and play.
We use math! We use math all night and day.

When the chimes ring five, six and seven,
We stop for gas at Seven-Eleven.

We use math to count the money we pay
We use math, math, math, as we learn and play
We use math! We use math all night and day.

When it’s eight, nine, ten, eleven, too!
We check the weather and choose clothes for school.

We use math to check the temp each day
We use math, math, math, as we learn and play
We use math! We use math all night and day.

When the clock strikes twelve, and it’s time to sleep
We close our eyes and count those sheep

We use math to count things every day
We use math, math, math, as we learn and play
We use math! We use math all night and day.

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Topics: motivation, contest, math everyday

Math Every Day: Winner's Showcase

Posted by Lisa Wise

Mar 2, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Welcome to the second entry in our “Math Every Day Winners Showcase.”  Today we feature a winning classroom entry from Dan F. Long Middle School in Dallas.    Ms. Warmbrodt’s 7th grade integrated Math and Technology Lab compiled a single entry surrounding their participation in the Holiday Farmer’s Market. See how these 7th graders identified important math concepts in this school event:

Math is always a part of our everyday world at Long Middle School and on December 9th, math was even more evident at the Holiday Farmers Market hosted by our school.  National Junior Honor Society members and the Integrated Math and Technology Lab students coordinated the event and students chose roles such as market manager, cashier, bake salesperson, server, sous chef, and event photographer. The Market booths included a photo booth, cooking demonstrations, free fresh produce, tasting samples and more. Paradise Produce delivered hundreds of pounds of fresh produce to distribute free to students and their families and chefs from Carrollton and Coppell volunteered to provide cooking demonstrations using fresh produce. Parents tasted samples made by the chefs and received nutritional information and recipes. This farm to school event increased awareness of the nutritional benefits of eating fresh food straight from the farm and educated students and parents on how to use produce for making tasty economical meals.  Students learned how to operate a farmers market and how to use math to prepare for and run a successful real-life event.

For the Market, the students determined how much produce $300 would buy and they calculated how many families could receive a two pound bag of produce. The food was then distributed to each family the night of the event.

The volunteer chefs provided students with their recipes in advance and the students calculated the amount of ingredients needed by multiplying by the number of expected guests by a one serving recipe. And, in preparation for the Market, students determined how much food the chefs could cook, divided that number by the attendees and determined how many sample bowls and utensils to order.  Since the chefs asked for pumpkins to be pre-cooked, students had to determine the ratio of time it would take to bake a one-pound pumpkin and apply that ratio to a ten pound pumpkin.

The bake sale gave students an opportunity to practice selling items, taking in money and giving change.  With the money they raised, the students were able to purchase a class set of earphones

Parents and students watched the chefs cooking demonstrations and tasted samples of the fresh cooked produce.  Attendees also received nutritional information that included the number of calories per tablespoon and the amount of nutrients in the samples.  Students and parents learned that cooking healthy homemade meals at home is tastier and more economical than eating and buying fast food. 

The students worked alongside the chefs and learned how to prepare fresh produce, how to measure and mix ingredients and how to compile ingredients to make a tasty meal.  Students also learned how to gauge baking temperature and how tokeep ingredients at a healthy temperature.

At the Market, participants enjoyed making their own caramel corn and applesauce.  The students calculated the ratio of apples to water to make a small cup of applesauce for each participant.  They also calculated the ratio of corn kernels to marshmallows needed for each participant to make a popcorn ball.

The Holiday Farmers Market centered on service in our community and engaged students in mathematical concepts.  Students learned the importance of counting money accurately and how to give change.  They applied ratios to recipes and they understood how to increase and decrease recipes based on the number of people being served.  The students, parents and teachers saw the chefs create dishes with their recipes and learned that the price per unit of fresh produce is healthier and more economical than the price of eating out.  Math was a big part of the market as the students divided hundreds of pounds of produce amongst the participants, calculated the number of servings needed and adjusted recipes accordingly.  The event provided hands-on activities where students used their mathematical background knowledge in a real-life situation.

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Topics: motivation, contest, math everyday

Math Every Day: Winner's Showcase

Posted by Lisa Wise

Feb 27, 2015 2:28:00 PM

Congratulations to the winners of our national “Math Every Day” challenge.  The contest, which ran throughout the month of January, challenged students across the country to provide examples of “how math is all around you.”  Throughout the month, we posted examples of math in art, technology, food, nature, sports and fashion to provide inspiration. Then we asked TTM students to tell us how they encounter math every day and why that’s important. 

Not only were we blown away by the sheer quantity of submission we received - nearly 1,000! –but we were equally impressed by the creativity, insight and originality of the TTM students, who range fro 3rd to 8th grade.  The winning submissions incorporate a broad range of math concepts including metric conversion, spatial positioning, linear equations, variability, symmetry and more.

In the coming weeks, we will be shining the light on some of the winning student entries in this blog series, which we hope will serve as an inspiration to other TTM users as well as students and teachers around the country.

Here is the first winning entry to be spotlighted in our “Math Every Day” Winners Showcase:

“A world of math”

By Donia, 3rd Grade
an Sciff Elementary School, Fort Bend ISD, TX.

Ring! RING! 7:00 already! I’m going to be late for school! Also it’s going to be 30 degrees outside! Math is everything. You can’t name something that’s not math, fashion, nature, music, technology, art and more.

My mom is a nurse and she needs to go to work at 6:00 and if she never knew when its 6 she will be late and she’ll get fired. My mom is a great cook too and her cake will be a disaster if she doesn’t measure and cook properly. My mom needs to know how many cups of flour and how many eggs she needs to bake our cake. Not only that but also she needs to know how much temperature and time she has to warm up the oven.

I wouldn’t be able to wear an eye-catching dress if I never knew my size. I’d look like Rapunzel with a long dress instead of long hair or I’d be stuck on a small dress for a long time until I find a way to get out of that cloth so only math can tell my size.  Also I have to play the piano in a melodious way. If I don’t know the correct timing for each note it would sound as if I was playing random keys. I’m an artist too. I won’t be able to draw proper shapes and sizes if I never knew what they were. I would have drawn a picture that was too ugly to see if I never knew my friend math.

Also I need to know what the temperature is so I could wear the right clothes because if I wore the wrong clothes I would freeze to an ice cube or melt as ice cream. I live in a lovely house, which is made by engineers. How did they make my house so beautiful? Well, these engineers measured and used the correct shapes like how I do my art! If they never knew I’d live in a bird house. Robots are doing surgery today only with the help of math in technology.

I have to set up my alarm clock to get up in the morning before I go to bed.

So from the time I wake up till I go to bed, I have to encounter math all day and so do everyone. I love math. Thanks math!!!!!

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Topics: motivation, contest, math everyday

It’s not just about the technology. It’s all about the technology.

Posted by Lisa Erdner

Jan 29, 2015 4:10:28 PM

By Paula Maylahn

In the 21st Century, addressing personalization requires a discussion about technology. While technology isn’t needed for personalized instruction, it is needed to bring personalization to scale. It is impossible for one teacher to provide personalized instruction to every student in her class at the same moment and in the right way to optimize each student’s learning experience. However, with the assistance of the right educational technology she can. Technology helps make the impossible possible.

The most effective 1:1 technology identifies the misconception that drives a student to select a wrong answer. It’s not sufficient to provide a green check for correct answers and a red X for incorrect answers in an online quiz. Effective 1:1 technology provides meaningful feedback that points out strengths as well as constructive guidance for improvement. Research shows that students benefit from an adaptive learning experience and value timely responses to questions. And for the struggling student, where stakes are especially high, corrective feedback that is differentiated and mathematically focused also plays a pivotal role in achievement. For students failing to meet the minimum baseline for math proficiency, 1:1 support students should not be optional.

Effective 1:1 technology not only delivers a meaningful personalized learning experience, but also motivates students and helps them become aware and proactive about filling in gaps on their own. Classroom teachers and researchers have long noted that when students buy into their learning objectives, they display more effort and perseverance, and greater engagement in their schooling.

Technology that delivers effective 1:1 differentiated instruction approximates what a teacher does during one-on-one time with her student. Though nothing can replace the power an effective teacher, effective technology can simulate that productive experience for students.
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Combat the Summer Slide

Posted by Buzz

Jul 10, 2014 3:21:00 PM

Check this out:
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Topics: Summer School

8 Ways to Assess Learning On-the-Spot

Posted by Miranda Cipkowski

Apr 29, 2014 9:52:45 AM



Most teachers have asked themselves, “Do my students get this?” Here are some sure fire ways to make sure they do--- not just the one with his hand raised. As we all know, the student afraid to ask the question is the one who needs enrichment/remediation the most. The following are some great ways to informally assess learning.

                In this thoughtful Educational Leadership article, Dylan Wiliam (University of London) describes the initiate-respond-evaluate cycle: the teacher asks a question, calls on a student with a raised hand, says whether the answer is right or wrong, and moves on. The teacher’s intent is to check for understanding, but there are several problems:

-    Student participation is voluntary, which leads to the “Matthew Effect” (the rich get richer, the poor get poorer).

-    Calling on one or two students doesn’t give the teacher an adequate sampling of the whole class’s understanding.

-    Low-level, off-the-cuff questions can mislead the teacher into thinking students understand when they don’t.

“Trying to manage the learning that is happening in 30 different minds at the same time will always be extraordinarily challenging,” says Wiliam, but he believes there are ways to do better:

  1. Cold-calling – The teacher tells students to raise their hands only to ask questions, not to answer them, and calls on students at random (using an electronic randomizer or popsicle sticks). This simple shift can have a major impact on teaching and learning, says Wiliam – but it often meets resistance from students: eager beavers aren’t able to show off their knowledge, and non-participators have to pay attention. Nevertheless, a no-hands-up policy equalizes class participation, increases engagement, and gives the teacher a more accurate idea of the class’s understanding.
  2. Posing the question first – Wiliam recommends asking a question first, pausing to get everyone thinking, and then calling on a student.
  3. Using statements rather than questions – For example, rather than asking, “Which country was most to blame for the outbreak of World War I?” the teacher says, “Russia was most to blame for the outbreak of World War I” and invites students to agree or disagree, with evidence.
  4. Planning better questions – Teachers should put more time into formulating questions, says Wiliam, “because we cannot peer into students’ brains to see what is going on” and “you can’t give good feedback until you find out what’s going wrong in the first place.” For example, asking students to simplify the fraction 16/64 can produce a correct answer (1/4) for the wrong reasons (the student “cancelled” the sixes).
  5. Pushing the envelope – “If the students are answering every one of the teacher’s questions correctly,” says Wiliam, “the teacher is surely wasting the students’ time. If the questions are not causing students to struggle and think, they are probably not worth asking.” He is fond of saying to his students, “Mistakes are evidence that the questions I asked are tough enough to make you smarter.” Research indicates that long-term learning improves when students make mistakes and correct their answers.
  6. Asking multi-level questions – This allows students at different achievement levels to participate. For example, the teacher might write two math problems on the board and ask, “Which of these two questions is harder and why?”
  7. Using all-class response systems at least every 20-30 minutes – Wiliam favors low-tech methods – dry-erase boards, ABCD cards, and students holding up fingers – and recommends multiple-choice questions to simplify analysis. “The powerful thing about all these approaches is that the teacher can quickly scan the students’ responses and make an immediate decision about what to do next,” he says.
  8. Using exit tickets – This can help the teacher decide where to begin the next lesson. If students write their names on the back of their answers, it can also allow the teacher to group students by misconceptions or creating mixed-answer groups for peer instruction.


“The Right Questions, the Right Way” by Dylan Wiliam in Educational Leadership, March 2014 (Vol. 71, #6, p. 16-19),; Wiliam can be reached at


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How Can We Measure a School's Success?

Posted by Miranda Cipkowski

Apr 21, 2014 11:17:38 AM


 What is success? How do we know when we’ve achieved it? When speaking of success in terms of education there must be several “yard sticks” in play in order to get a fair and  accurate reading on the pulse of our schools locally, statewide, and nationally.

“Ranking schools is a hollow, misleading exercise that can do more damage than good,” say John Gulla (Edward Ford Foundation) and Olaf Jorgenson (Almaden Country School, CA) in this article in Independent School. But they agree that educators can’t “reflexively dismiss all efforts to apply some elements of quantitative analysis to our work.” They list nine measures of school effectiveness – three traditional and six more recent. Selecting judiciously which of these to use, say Gulla and Jorgenson, might give a good sense of a school’s quality:

            • Parent satisfaction – This includes the level of parent demand, a low rate of attrition, and positive ratings on a well-constructed parent survey. As important as giving a survey is how well the results are used. “If a measurement matters at all,” says information expert Douglas Hubbard, “it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.”

            • Standardized testing – Standardized multiple-choice tests can be seen as measuring (in the words of John Austin of King’s Academy in Jordan) “the educational equivalent of factory work” – better suited to the Industrial Age that faded decades ago. Far more valuable, say Gulla and Jorgenson, are SAT II, AP, and IB tests with their open-ended and creative-response questions. The key data to watch for are trends over time and the value a school adds to students’ entering achievement levels.

            • Accreditation – A thorough audit can provide valuable insights on a school’s effectiveness as measured against its mission and aspirations, in the context of its resources and capacities. But a lot depends on the quality of the visiting team and the school’s self-study.

            • Value-added assessment – The College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA+) is designed to measure how much a school contributes to a student’s 21st-century skills from freshman to senior year – critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and ability to communicate in writing. This assessment is a “compelling alternative” to the limited range of the SAT I, say Gulla and Jorgenson.

            • Student surveys – Well-crafted questionnaires can quantify students’ level of engagement, providing important insights on how students feel about their school’s purpose, relevance, rigor, and challenge, as well as relationships, support, and connectedness. The High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE – see following article) can provide information that is “[p]otentially far more institutionally useful than data from standardized achievement testing,” say Gulla and Jorgenson.

            • Benchmarking – The key factor in a meaningful analysis of schools is comparing apples to apples and not rank-ordering, say the authors. “Healthy benchmarking collectives… are characterized by member school commitment to collegiality and use of data to benefit the greater good,” they say.

            • Data dashboards – These corporate-inspired tools for displaying a school’s “vital signs” in a user-friendly format can include enrollment and re-enrollment data, budget information, student and staff attendance, course selections, test results, college placements, post-graduate achievement, and more. “Still, much of what we do in schools cannot be easily measured and is not always subject to quantitative analysis,” say Bulla and Jorgenson. “Variables including curiosity, resilience, self-control, and determination – what we sometimes refer to as personality traits or simply ‘character’ – are even more critical than measures of IQ or academic achievement in determining how and why children succeed.”

            • Longitudinal alumni surveys – “Great schools are measured not by the accomplishments of their students, but by the lives led by their alumni,” said Michael Chun, past president of Kamehameha School in Hawaii. John Austin agrees: “Are they active and involved in their communities? Have they put their own educations to work in the service of others? Are they doing what Howard Gardner and his team at Harvard call ‘good work’ – work that is excellent in quality, socially responsible, and meaningful to its practitioners?” Insights on questions like these can be gleaned by periodically surveying graduates and asking them for critical reflections on the school and how well it prepared them – or didn’t prepare them – for occupations, relationships, collaboration, leadership, self-advocacy, and coping.

            • A senior survey – Harvard professor Richard Light is developing an interview protocol for graduating seniors designed to elicit information about both student life and the academic program.

            • The Mission Skills Assessment – This assessment is designed to measure middle-school students’ curiosity, teamwork, resilience, ethics, and time management. Comparing data with other schools might provide valuable insights on the most effective practices in developing these vital life skills.

            This is an exhaustive – and exhausting – list of possible measures of school effectiveness, conclude Gulla and Jorgenson. The trick is to select the measures that most accurately and efficiently measure what a school wants to do. “As school leaders, we must be courageous, resisting the significant pressures to commodify education as a neatly defined, measured set of metrics and program outcomes,” they say. “At the same time, we do our students and ourselves no favors if we reject all efforts to measure the value we know we deliver.”


“Measuring Our Success: How to Gauge the ‘Value Added’ by an Independent School Education” by John Gulla and Olaf Jorgenson in Independent School, Spring 2014 (Vol. 73, #3, p. 28-36),

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How to Cultivate "Grit"

Posted by Miranda Cipkowski

Feb 28, 2014 10:35:07 AM


Ask anyone who knows me well, and those folks will tell you: Miranda has the fortitude of an ox.

I have a tenacity that simply will not allow me to give up. When I was a little girl, I ran around my grandmother’s house to the point of exhaustion, I held my breath underwater longer than any of my cousins dared, I walk on the treadmill at full incline, because even though it’s tough, it’s what I must do to save the ankle I broke severely in college from atrophy. I refuse to allow fear to hinder my attempt to be my best self. That being said, I am also an extremist. The attribute that has served in so many ways in my life can also be considered my Achilles heel. I am too hard on myself much of the time. I drive my husband crazy, I drive the editor at the newspaper crazy, and I drive my boss crazy with my onslaught of questions that really amount to this: “Is my work good enough?” Translation: “Am I good enough?”, or even more simply, “Am I enough? I think the key to harnessing and positively utilizing this wonderful quality, is the ability to strike a healthy balance between throwing in the towel almost immediately and constantly feeling like there is something to be proven. Below are some suggestions to finding the balance and bringing out the best in your students.

In this article in AMLE Magazine, consultant/writer Rick Wormeli says that in some domains, today’s students are incredibly tenacious: “If the story is good, they read 700-page books. They play online games, working their way through 12 levels of difficulty for six hours or more. They stay well into the evening hours to practice for theater productions and sports tournaments, and they work diligently for weeks on video projects to support favored causes.” But in other arenas, not so much. They abandon a website if it doesn’t download in two seconds. They think they know world events by skimming headlines and listening to short sound bites. They tune out if a text message is too long. And long reading assignments are anathema. So how do we build stick-to-it-iveness in classrooms? Here are Wormeli’s suggestions:

                • Cultivate trust. “Students will take risks and push themselves harder if they can trust the adult in charge won’t humiliate them,” he says. Don’t use sarcasm and “gotcha” language. Some positive examples: “Can you help me find the supportive details in this paragraph?” “The first part of your response provides the insight we needed. Tell me more about that second part.”

                • Make connections. When a student is deciding whether to watch a movie with a friend or finish a project that’s due tomorrow, the deciding factor will be whether the student wants to avoid disappointing the teacher.

                • Be happy. Students are drawn “to the bright oasis of the teacher who keeps cynicism and indifference at bay,” says Wormeli.

                • Provide descriptive feedback. Focus on the decisions students made while doing their work, he suggests: “Judgments and labels shut down the reflective, growth-mindset process.” Some templates: I noticed you decided to ______. As a result, you were able to ________.

                • Show growth. Use pre-assessments to set a baseline and create a growth-over-time dynamic, says Wormeli: “When students see that they were once struggling and then worked hard and eventually achieved success, they are more likely to endure the next challenge; they have personal proof that they can go from nothing to full success if they put in the time and energy necessary.”

                • Provide constructive responses to relearning and reassessing. An unchangeable ‘F’ grade teaches very little. Better for a student to go through the steps of a failed project a second time and get it right.

                • Provide meaningful work. Students respond to real-life connections. “Meaning-making is the root of perseverance,” says Wormeli.

                • Clearly articulate the goals. “At any given moment, every student in our classes should be able to tell us both the learning goal/objective and where he is in relation to it,” he says. “If the goal is vague, we’re more likely to put it off and we give it less energy in its completion.”

                • Provide multiple tools and models. If students believe they have the building blocks, they’re more likely to commit their effort.

                • Make sure students experience success. “Nothing motivates students to stick with something like success,” says Wormeli. “We all enjoy complex, demanding challenges if we have the tools to achieve them and proof of success.”


“Perseverance and Grit” by Rick Wormeli in AMLE Magazine, January 2014 (Vol. 1, #5, p. 41-43),; Wormeli can be reached at

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